Justia Idaho Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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ABK, LLC owned and operated a gas station in Post Falls, Idaho where underground storage tanks were damaged due to water infiltration into the gas stored in the tanks. After the damage occurred, ABK submitted a claim to its insurer, Mid-Century Insurance Company. Mid-Century denied the claim. ABK then sued Mid-Century alleging breach of contract and bad faith. Mid-Century moved for summary judgment on both claims. The district court granted summary judgment for Mid-Century on ABK’s breach of contract claim finding ABK failed to raise a genuine dispute as to the fact the underground storage tanks were damaged by water, specifically excluded by the terms of the policy. The district court also granted summary judgment for Mid-Century on ABK’s bad faith claim finding ABK failed to establish coverage. ABK appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Mid-Century on both claims. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "ABK v. Mid-Century Insurance" on Justia Law

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Mother Jane Doe appealed a magistrate court’s termination of her parental rights to her minor son, A.V. The magistrate court concluded that the Department proved by clear and convincing evidence that Mother and John Doe (“Father”) neglected A.V. and that termination was in A.V.’s best interests (Father’s termination was the subject of a separate appeal (Dkt. No. 47200)). A.V. went into foster care in November 2017, when he was approximately two-and-a-half years old. The child was malnourished; health care providers testified the child was four to six months developmentally delayed. November 2017 was his second trip to foster care; social workers found A.V. weighed less than he had in his first trip a year before, "the size and weight of a twelve-month-old." In response to a question about why she thought A.V. was losing weight in the time period before he was placed into care in November of 2017, Mother testified that she was dealing with a very big loss—the death of her mother by suicide—and unfortunately she let it get in the way of her life and the lives of her children. She did not ask for help because she did not want people feeling sorry for her. However, after A.V. was placed in foster care, she realized that all of this could have been avoided if she had just reached out for help. A Department social worker developed a case plan for Mother and Father. Both parents were present at the case plan meeting in which the case plans were designed. The magistrate court determined, however, by clear and convincing evidence the Department had established statutory grounds for termination under Idaho Code section 16-2002(3)(b), neglect through failure to complete a case plan, and under section 16-1602(31), neglect through conduct or omission of the parents. The magistrate court also determined that termination was in A.V.’s best interests. A final judgment and a decree were entered, terminating both Mother’s and Father’s parental relationship with A.V. Mother’s main argument on appeal was that the magistrate court erred in terminating her parental rights because her disabilities prevented her from completing her case plan. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the magistrate court’s decree terminating Mother’s parental rights. View "DHW v. Jane Doe" on Justia Law

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Father John Doe appealed a magistrate court's judgment granting the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s (“the Department”) petition to terminate his parental rights to his son, A.V. The magistrate court concluded the Department proved by clear and convincing evidence that Father and Jane Doe (“Mother”) neglected A.V. and that termination was in A.V.’s best interests (Mother’s termination was the subject of a separate appeal (Dkt. No. 47190)). Father’s main argument on appeal was that the magistrate court erred in terminating his parental rights because it was not in A.V.’s best interests to be separated from his siblings. A.V., the child at issue in this case, went into foster care in November 2017, when he was approximately two-and-a-half years old. The child was malnourished; health care providers testified the child was four to six months developmentally delayed. November 2017 was his second trip to foster care; social workers found A.V. weighed less than he had in his first trip a year before, "the size and weight of a twelve-month-old." Father testified that he was aware that A.V. was malnourished and not developing as he should have been while he was in Father’s care, and that he did not obtain services to help A.V. with walking and talking. However, Father did not realize that A.V. had lost weight when he came back into their care. One Department social worker testified that Father feels that it is his responsibility to work and provide financially for the family, and it is Mother’s responsibility to ensure the children are getting their medical and emotional needs met and to feed and care for them during the day. She further testified that she had talked with Father about his observing A.V. being underweight or not gaining weight, and Father said that he told Mother she needed to take care of it. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the magistrate court did not err in concluding termination was in A.V.'s best interests, even though termination would result in A.V. being separated from his siblings. The Court determined it was not error for the magistrate court finding Father was also responsible for A.V.'s neglect. Accordingly, the magistrate court was affirmed. View "DHW v. John Doe" on Justia Law

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Father John Doe appealed a magistrate court's termination of his parental rights to his minor children “B.L.S.” and “A.C.S.” On Christmas Eve, 2017, the Department received a referral when A.C.S. was born prematurely. Mother’s amniotic fluid had ruptured prematurely due to drug use. Tests confirmed that A.C.S. was prenatally exposed to methamphetamine. Shortly after her birth, A.C.S. was life-flighted to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Washington for treatment. Mother explained that she and Father had been in an on-and-off relationship for the past 20 years. At the time of the meeting, Mother and Father lived together in a camper on his family’s farm near Kendrick, Idaho. Mother disclosed that she actively used methamphetamine and had used methamphetamine while pregnant with A.C.S. She also explained that she and Father used methamphetamine together in their camper, sometimes with their children present. Mother described frequent incidents of domestic violence that occurred in the home: when the couple fought, it could become violent, where they would yell and throw appliances and other objects at each other. After an adjudicatory hearing where Father and Mother again stipulated to jurisdiction and custody, the Department worked with the parents to develop a case plan. At a review hearing in October 2018, the Department requested an early permanency hearing on the grounds that both parents had made little progress on their case plans. Agreeing that the parents had made very little progress up to that point, the magistrate court moved the permanency hearing up from December 2018, to November 26, 2018. At the permanency hearing, the magistrate court approved a permanency plan that sought termination of parental rights and relative adoption with the foster parents as the primary goal for each child. The Idaho Supreme Court determined Father failed to preserve his argument that Idaho Code section 16-1622(2)(g)(i) caused the magistrate court to violate his right to due process by moving the date of the permanency hearing from December to November. Further, the Supreme Court determined the magistrate court's decision to termination Father's parental rights was supported by substantial, competent evidence. Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirmed the magistrate court’s order terminating Father’s parental rights to B.L.S. and A.C.S. View "DHW v. John Doe" on Justia Law

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Mother Jane Doe appealed a magistrate court’s termination of her parental rights to her minor children “B.L.S.”, “X.V.S.”, and “A.C.S.” Mother’s amniotic fluid had ruptured prematurely due to drug use. Tests confirmed that A.C.S. was prenatally exposed to methamphetamine. Shortly after her birth, A.C.S. was life-flighted to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Washington for treatment. Mother explained that she and Father had been in an on-and-off relationship for the past 20 years. At the time of the meeting, Mother and Father lived together in a camper on his family’s farm near Kendrick, Idaho. Mother disclosed that she actively used methamphetamine and had used methamphetamine while pregnant with A.C.S. She also explained that she and Father used methamphetamine together in their camper, sometimes with their children present. Mother described frequent incidents of domestic violence that occurred in the home: when the couple fought, it could become violent, where they would yell and throw appliances and other objects at each other. After an adjudicatory hearing where Father and Mother again stipulated to jurisdiction and custody, the Department worked with the parents to develop a case plan. At a review hearing in October 2018, the Department requested an early permanency hearing on the grounds that both parents had made little progress on their case plans. Agreeing that the parents had made very little progress up to that point, the magistrate court moved the permanency hearing up from December 2018, to November 26, 2018. At the permanency hearing, the magistrate court approved a permanency plan that sought termination of parental rights and relative adoption with the foster parents as the primary goal for each child. Mother argued on appeal that the magistrate court abused its discretion by holding the permanency hearing 11 months after the children were placed in the Department's custody, and that the decision to terminate was not supported by substantial, competent evidence. Finding no abuse of discretion or other reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed termination of parental rights. View "DHW v. Jane Doe" on Justia Law

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Mark Ciccarello formed a company named F.E.M. Distribution, LLC for the purpose of marketing and selling a product line called “Lotus Electronic Cigarettes.” In 2013, Ciccarello faced federal criminal charges related to his operation of another business that sold and marketed synthetic cannabinoids. As a result of the federal charges, some of F.E.M.’s assets were seized by the federal government. To prevent further seizure of F.E.M.’s remaining assets, Ciccarello contacted attorney Jeffrey Davies; Ciccarello and Davies discussed options for safeguarding F.E.M.’s assets, which included the possible sale of F.E.M. to another company. Davies drafted documents to form two new companies, Vapor Investors, LLC, and Baus Investment Group, LLC, which collectively owned Lotus Vaping Technologies, LLC. Davies put together a group of investors. The members of Vapor and Baus orally agreed with Ciccarello that he would receive $2 million and a majority ownership interest in Baus in exchange for the sale of F.E.M.’s assets to Lotus, the shares to be held by Bob Henry until Ciccarello's federal problems concluded. F.E.M. was sold to Lotus, and Ciccarello continued to act as CEO and manage operations. In January 2014, the federal government issued a letter stating it had no further interest in Ciccarello’s involvement in Lotus. Ciccarello requested his shares in Baus be returned and that the sale documents be modified to reflect him as the owner of the Baus shares. However, this was never done. In June 2014, Ciccarello was incarcerated due to his federal criminal case. Lotus ceased making monthly payments to Ciccarello in July 2014 and never resumed. At some point in 2014, Ciccarello was also ousted from Lotus by its members and Bob Henry took over his role as CEO. In April 2016, Ciccarello sued Lotus, Vapor, Davies, Henry, and several other investors involved in the sale of F.E.M. to Lotus, seeking recovery of damages Ciccarello alleged he suffered as a result of the structure of the sale. Ciccarello’s claims against Davies was negligence claims asserting legal malpractice. Shortly after Ciccarello made his expert witness disclosure, Davies moved for summary judgment, arguing that even if Davies represented Ciccarello at the time of the F.E.M. sale, Davies was not negligent in his representation. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of Davies, denying Ciccarello’s motion for reconsideration, or denying Ciccarello’s motion for relief under Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). View "Ciccarello v. Davies" on Justia Law

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In November 2016, Officer Kuebler and Officer Johnson from the Idaho Department of Correction performed a routine residence check on parolee Terry Wilson. Upon their arrival, the officers knocked on the apartment door and Wilson answered. As the officers entered, they noticed Kari Phipps exit from a back bedroom. The officers recognized Phipps from previous visits. The officers asked Phipps and Wilson to take a seat in the living room while they “cleared the bedrooms for other persons.” Officer Johnson testified that, although Phipps never asked to leave at that time, she was not “cleared to leave. . . . [b]ecause of procedure.” After ensuring there was no one else in the apartment, Officer Kuebler advised Phipps and Wilson that a drug dog would be brought in to aid in the search of the residence and asked whether there was anything in the apartment that they should know about. Phipps confessed to having a methamphetamine pipe in her backpack, which was on her person. Officer Kuebler proceeded to conduct a full search of the residence and found two safes containing drugs underneath a bed in a back bedroom. The officers called backup law enforcement to handle the drugs. At some point prior to the arrival of backup, the officers ascertained that Phipps had no outstanding warrants. Approximately ten to twenty minutes later, Officer Hutchison from the Coeur d’Alene Police Department arrived. Officer Hutchison talked with Phipps separately in a back bedroom after he read Phipps her Miranda rights. When asked whether she had a methamphetamine pipe in her backpack, Phipps confirmed that she did. Officer Hutchison searched Phipps’s backpack and found the methamphetamine pipe. Consequently, Officer Hutchison issued Phipps a citation for possession of drug paraphernalia. Phipps asserted the statements she made while detained during a routine parole search of a parolee’s residence, along with the evidence found as a result of her statements, were inadmissible on Fourth Amendment grounds. The State appealed, seeking to delineate the authority of parole officers to detain a non-parolee while performing a routine parole search of a parolee’s residence. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the limited detention of Phipps was reasonable, thus the district court erred in reversing the magistrate court's order denying Phipps' motion to suppress. The magistrate court's order was reinstated and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Idaho v. Phipps" on Justia Law

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This was a permissive appeal brought by Phillip and Marcia Eldridge1 in a medical malpractice action they filed against Dr. Gregory West (West), Lance Turpin, PA-C (Turpin), and Summit Orthopaedics Specialists, PLLC (Summit). The Eldridges alleged that Phillip became infected with Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) as a result of malpractice committed by West, Turpin, and agents of Summit. The Eldridges claimed West and Turpin breached the standard of care that was due them and as a result, sustained damages. The district court granted various motions, including a motion to dismiss certain causes of action against West, Turpin, and Summit, as well as a motion for summary judgment brought by Turpin and Summit, and a motion for partial summary judgment brought by West. On appeal, the Eldridges contended the district court erred in: (1) dismissing their claims for negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, gross negligence, and reckless, willful, and wanton conduct; (2) denying their motion to strike the affidavits of West and Turpin; (3) limiting their claim for damages; and (4) concluding that the Eldridges could only present evidence of damages, specifically medical bills, after the Medicare write-offs had been calculated. The Idaho Supreme Court concurred with the Eldridges, reversed the district court and remanded for further proceedings. View "Eldridge v. West, Turpin & Summit" on Justia Law

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Deena Wood was seriously injured in a car collision. At the time of the collision, Wood had auto insurance through Farmers Insurance Company of Idaho, which included $100,000 of underinsured motorist ("UIM") coverage but also contained a provision stating that the amount of coverage would be reduced by the liability limit of the at-fault driver. Because the at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability limit was equal to Wood’s underinsured motorist limit, Farmers determined that no underinsured benefits were owed to Wood. Wood challenged the denial in district court, arguing in a motion for reconsideration that the offset provision should be declared void as against public policy because it “diluted” UIM coverage. The district court rejected Wood’s argument. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decision. View "Wood v. Farmers Insurance Co of Idaho" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Idaho Supreme Court's review stems from the complex divorce between Jerry and Veronika Papin. Jerry appealed the district court’s decision, which affirmed in part the judgment of the magistrate court dividing the marital estate. On appeal, Jerry argued the district court erred in affirming several of the magistrate court’s rulings, including: (1) its holding that the marriage settlement agreement was invalid; (2) its holding that the community was entitled to reimbursement for the funds expended towards the mortgage and property taxes on Jerry’s separate property home; (3) its characterization of certain property as either separate or community; (4) its valuation of certain property; (5) its award of spousal maintenance to Veronika; and (6) its award of attorney fees to Veronika. The Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. The Court affirmed the district court’s ruling that the marriage settlement agreement failed for lack of consideration, but on the alternate theory that there was no consideration as between Jerry and Veronika. Likewise, the Court affirmed the district court’s rulings concerning the characterization of the sale proceeds and the business as community property, the valuations of the business, the determination that the community was entitled to reimbursement for the funds expended towards the mortgage and property taxes on Jerry’s separate property home, the division of the remaining personal property, the grant of spousal maintenance, and the grounds for the divorce. However, the Court reversed the district court’s decision on attorney fees and remanded to the district court with instructions to reverse and remand to the magistrate court for further proceedings. No attorney fees or costs were awarded on appeal. View "Papin v. Papin" on Justia Law